Sidney has a close-knit medic-vet community, with around 10-15 in each year. Freshers live together in one of a few sites around College so it’s easy to get to know everyone.
There are three core subjects (anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology) which are more scientific in nature and which have weekly supervisions, and three more minor subjects which are clinically-based modules.
The anatomy module is called ‘Functional Architecture of the Body’ (in Cambridge style – you’ll get used to all the names and acronyms really fast!), and everyone calls it FAB. It’s taught mostly by cadaveric dissection (two two hour sessions a week), alongside lectures on embryology and clinical applications. Dissection is actually really fun, sociable and useful, and these days is pretty rare for medical students to do, so is something to look forward to! You’ll be put in a group with 6 or 7 medics from other Cambridge Colleges (a great way of getting to know people), and dissect different regions of the body throughout the year (upper limb and thorax in 1st term, then abdomen and lower limb in 2nd term).
The biochemistry module – Molecules in Medical Science (aka MIMS) – involves learning about the intricate biochemistry of cellular processes such as metabolism, cell growth and genetics, with a focus on diabetes in Michaelmas and cancer in Lent term. There is also a four hour practical once a term, which relates to the lecture content.
The physiology module is called Homeostasis – HOM – and in it you learn about the organ systems and their various roles in the body. You’ll have weekly HOM practicals based around the lecture content. There are also histology sessions where you learn how to identify the different cells and tissues in the body using a microscope.
The three minor courses are all pass/fail. They include Preparing for Patients (PfP), which lets you have a little bit of patient contact in local GP practices, an ethics module and a stats module.
I’m sure you’ve heard of supervisions (or ‘supos’), the small group teaching sessions which are basically unique to Oxbridge and incredibly useful, and first years will have a weekly ‘supo’ in FAB, MIMS and HOM. These are with around three other students and a practicing doctor/expert researcher, and are a great tool for maximising your knowledge and understanding of the course. As well as the small group supos, you’ll also have individual meetings with your Director of Studies (‘DoS’) twice a term, or at any other time you need to raise any concerns or questions about your academics, as they oversee your progress. There’s also your College Tutor and the Sidney pastoral team should you need any other support or advice.
There’s a lot to take in about the course, but it’s important thing to highlight is that studying at Cambridge is not just endless work! Finding sports and societies, either within College or the University, which you enjoy is great for relaxing and forgetting about work for a bit. There’s really something for everyone, and I really recommend going to freshers’ fair to find some things to try out. Socialising is also something to make time for, and Sidney has a really nice bar which is run by students (one of only a few remaining in Cambridge) and is a great place to socialise in the evenings, as well as the gardens, and the JCR (which has board games, air hockey and a Wii). During the year, you’ll meet so many new people within medicine, Sidney, and societies, and find that there is way more to University than just the degree itself.